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Your Execution May Be Televised (R.I.P. Terence Crutcher)

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  • Your Execution May Be Televised (R.I.P. Terence Crutcher)

    stalled on the road
    so you could use assistance,
    but nothing can rebut
    the cultural insistence,
    you are
    probably a criminal,
    'cause racial bias
    is indeed

    Dark skinned menace
    the media perpetuate,
    bigotry and hyper-vigilance
    have virtually
    sealed your fate!

    Helicopter pilot
    says you look like a bad guy,
    your guess
    how he could tell that
    from a bird's eye.

    strike you down
    where you stand,
    while you raise your hand.

    Boys in blue
    watch your life
    no life saving efforts
    are made.

    once feared
    men in white sheets,
    now it's
    silver stars,
    cold steel lynchings
    no matter where you are.

    black skin
    is inherently suspect,
    never mind
    human dignity
    and respect.

    Last edited by DWAYNE; 09-21-2016, 12:08 PM.

  • #2
    This is a great poem and sadly right on. I am deeply moved by verse 6.
    Over my years of working I have worked in all kinds of neighborhoods with all skin colors and ethnicities. I have worked with the rich and the poor; the educated and the non educated. I have never been threatened or harmed. I have however wondered, when in a predominately black neighborhood, if the residents might mistrust me, fear me or even hate me just because I am white. I have thought that they might wonder the same about me. It was just a wonder and I never let it become a fear. I usually dismissed the thought quickly as absurd. I ask you most sincerely- is that racist? I pray it is not.
    Today it seems as though we live in a heightened state of fear and mistrust, deserved or not. I don't know how we stop it. There will always be bad people. There will always be good people. Most people are just people (sometimes good, sometimes less than good, and rarely bad). It seems that the few bad control the dialogue.

    Well enough of that. Again fantastic verse, of course I expect nothing less from you.


    • DWAYNE
      DWAYNE commented
      Editing a comment
      I do not consider that racist.

      Being fallible individuals, we may prejudge, or be fearful of being prejudged. That is human.

      It takes moral strength, and courage,
      to face these fears and potential biases.

      We all make snap judgments from time to time. The question is, do we challenge ourselves, when we do?

      Do we mistreat others based on preconceived notions, or do we demand fairness of ourselves?

      All anyone can ask of another human being is to: recognize, and affirm, the humanity of everybody; presume the good character of others, until proven otherwise; and
      to treat others as you would like others to treat you.
      Last edited by DWAYNE; 09-22-2016, 10:57 AM.

    • rhymetime
      rhymetime commented
      Editing a comment
      Thank you DWANE

  • #3
    we need more writers like you to remind us what it means to be human.


    • #4
      It's a shame, we die in vain
      When will things ever change
      Its insane, no one's blamed
      The same OLD EVIL never changed....

      These evil cops are just practicing tradition I've watched the video and your writing is very precise excellent job

      Last edited by Poemahontas; 09-23-2016, 08:18 PM. Reason:


      • DWAYNE
        DWAYNE commented
        Editing a comment
        I will be the first to say, that most police, just like most people, are decent caring people. They love their families, and they love their lives.

        They wake up in the morning wishing to do good things, and come safely home at night.

        I dare say, that black people are simply saying, they wish to be presumed as decent people, until proven otherwise, whose lives are no less precious than their white countrymen.

        As someone who is familiar with the justifiable use of deadly force, which, for professional reasons, I am, this video is disturbing.

        Even if Mr. Crutcher did not follow police instructions to the letter, the use of deadly force must be a last resort, to prevent imminent death or grievous bodily harm, to either the officer, or others.

        An unarmed man, who is walking with his hands up, does not pose such a threat.

        Would it have been justifiable to perhaps detain him? Sure. However, his murder is not justifiable, as anyone can PLAINLY SEE!

        The incontrovertible fact, anyone who researches the subject, as I have, can see, is that, the American newspapers, in the late 19th century, habitually characterized black people as virtual savages, prone to violence.

        In fact, Jim Crow Laws were largely based on this erroneous mischaracterization.

        The post-emancipation Vagrancy Laws, which used prisons as a means to provide cheap labour for former slave holders, further perpetuated the criminalization of black people.

        Even a cursory glance at the post-emancipation laws in many of the southern states, confirms this.

        Furthermore, the current day prison industrial complex, replete with private prisons that contract with the state, stipulating that the states must ENSURE 90 % prison occupancy, DESPITE CRIME RATE, is the modern day equivalent of those post-emancipation laws.

        These prisoners work for as little as 50 cents/hour, providing virtual slave labour for big corporations.

        It is the same mindset that results in over-policing, where residents in poor black communities, report being stopped and frisked, virtually EVERYDAY, sometimes numerous times a day.

        Many people are unaware of the case of a Mr. Sampson from Miami Dade, who has been arrested for trespassing OUTSIDE HIS PLACE OF EMPLOYMENT, more than 60 times,
        despite his employer's protest.

        He was once arrested, for trespassing, as he re-entered the convenience store, where he worked.

        He had just finished taking out the trash!

        There is video evidence confirming his allegations.

        A law suit is pending.

        These are the same conditions, that James Baldwin wrote about, nearly 60 years ago.

        The same conditions that Malcolm X spoke about 50+ years ago.

        However, many well-intentioned people, who are not subject to these indignities, have a difficult time comprehending them, or even believing them.
        I can understand. Their interactions with police, are often quite different.

        But, as my grandmother often said, "he who feels it, knows it"

        Poemahontas, you and I know that this is happening. My personal experience, tells me that this is happening.The people who live in these communities, know that this is happening. The families of these victims, know that this is happening.

        And since, these are our people, we are not going to stand idly by, and be silent, as they are murdered, time and time again.

        If this makes some people uncomfortable, so be it!
        If this makes some people outraged, I'm fine with that too.

        I will save MY outrage for the senseless murder, perpetual harassment and dehumanization of my people!

        So I NEVER let another person's opinions of me, or my views, influence my opinion of myself.
        Last edited by DWAYNE; 09-22-2016, 11:07 AM.

    • #5
      Dwayne, this so called poem is reprehensible. At this point, we know not so much about this police shooting incident except for the fact that Mr. Crutcher did not think that he needed to obey the lawful orders of police officers. Where he got this impression is hard to say, but I speculate that some of this came directly from the White House. The statistics show that white suspects are more likely to be shot by police that black. Lies we do not like, even when written in poems.


      • #6
        Life should never be treated cheaply. Taking a life should be last resort when your own life is threatened. I watched the video and it makes me sad that this fear has been created by the constant mistreatment of another race. If I was black I would have been tempted to run or go back to my car for fear of being the next black person to be killed.

        We have created this mess and we need to be big enough to start fixing this.


        • #7
          I viewed the footage (I felt I should, though I normally avoid video scenes of actual killing, if I can). The resort to lethal force was terrible to see, and I am perplexed as to how this could occur. The man seemed to be cooperating, but I was not there. Different voices say different things about what actually happened.

          As an outsider, I observe that in the US there is a heightened expectation that someone apprehended by the police might suddenly reach for a firearm. This means that the tension and stakes are raised in otherwise routine law enforcement situations, for both parties. I don't want to debate the second amendment, but it's clear the nation's 'armed for resistance' attitude to guns is a factor in this and other police shootings (and shootings of police). I know that the 'right to bear arms' and the symbolic association of guns with freedom are deeply rooted in the national psyche of the US. That's not going to change anytime soon, but until it does, events like this (and the mass shootings) will recur.

          How do you divert the channel down which history courses?


          • DWAYNE
            DWAYNE commented
            Editing a comment
            I agree with you 100%.

            Black people, who have seen too many shootings, and suffer too much injustice, are sick and tired of it.

            We are tired of having to rebut the presumption that we are criminals.
            Personal experience tells me this.
            It does not matter how educated you are, or how upwardly mobile you are, or how well intentioned you are.

            You may still be harassed, over-surveilled, and over-policed. Mostly in predominantly black neighbourhoods, but anywhere in America.

            There has been much distortion of the right to bear arms, as stated in the constitution.

            There is some debate about what the amendment actually means when viewed in context.

            At the time the amendment came into existence, the nation did not have an established military, and thus, the citizenry were often called upon to form impromptu militia to defend the country. It was thought that it was the responsibility of each citizen to keep arms to defend her.

            Those circumstances no longer exist.

            Secondly, no right, even the right to life, is absolute. Every right is subject to reasonable limits. You have free speech, for instance, but you can be charged for shouting "fire" in a crowded movie theatre, if in fact, there is no fire!

            You have the right to life and liberty, but either can be taken away after a trial.

            So, it is somewhat disingenuous when, people speak of gun laws as an infringement of the constitution.

            We can have disagreements about what the limits ought to be, and/or the efficacy of the restrictions proposed, but limitations themselves, are not prima face, unconstitutional.

            Third, the climate of heightened fear, especially of blacks, due to historic racism, is institutional. So, many people, good people, arrive on the scene with unintentional bias, a heightened sense of fear, and a predisposition to take deadly action.

            Police work is difficult. They are called to deal with difficult situations every day.
            However, this cannot justify using deadly force, because you presume someone is dangerous. Deadly force ought to be a last resort.

            The key to changing these circumstances, is better education, to counteract the miseducation. Better training that emphasizes de-escalation over expediency. It is better, and more humane, to take hours to talk a suspect down, than minutes, or seconds, to shoot him down.

            Wherever police are better trained, the number of shootings decrease. The statistics show that.

            A more responsible media that presents a balanced view of events, that does not perpetuate stereotypes, would help too.

            However, media bias has a long history in America.

            Statistics such as black on black crime, are an example. It is true, most black people are killed by other black people.
            It is also true that most white people are killed by white people, at almost the identical rate.

            This is because people are usually killed in their own neighbourhoods, mostly by people they know, and since America is still very racially divided, the people you live with, tend to be of the same race.

            Yet, the media repeatedly references, the high rates of black on black crime.

            There is also much talk of crime in poor neighbourhoods that are mostly black.
            What is not discussed, is that it is virtually impossible to find a culture anywhere in the world, where there is not higher crime rates, amongst impoverished, disenfranchised, and desperate people.

            This is a socio-economic problem, not an inherent racial propensity for crime.

            Is bad behaviour, criminal behaviour justifiable? Of course not!

            But if we ever hope to reduce or eliminate criminality, and the many tragedies that result, we must be willing to address the root causes and underlying contributing factors.

            Is there a racial component to high crime rates for blacks? Sure there is.
            The myth of racial inferiority, was used to justify slavery.
            Black people were intentionally exploited and marginalized.

            Their slave labour helped make the nation wealthy.
            Yet ghettoization, post-emancipation laws which perpetuated slavery by another name, kept blacks poor, and has set the race back, many generations.

            Any race saddled with these conditions, would find progress difficult.

            The absence of compensation, the denial of basic services in education, housing etc., has created a perpetual state of poverty.

            Until these conditions are addressed, you will always have higher crime rates, higher rates of incarceration, than university graduations, stalled upward mobility.

            However, the key to rectifying these circumstances, is to acknowledge that they exist, and persist.

            Many refuse to acknowledge these problems, and fail to accept that past wrongs have current ramifications.
            Last edited by DWAYNE; 10-03-2016, 07:27 AM.

        • #8
          Interesting that you cite Malcom X to justify your contention that Mr. Crutcher was murdered or executed by the police. While later in life X seemed to have turned away from the most virulent racism of The Nation of Islam, and said things that on their face seemed to promote tolerance, one quote of his that sticks is: "The common enemy is the white man." The problem with your piece, Dwayne, is that it feeds into the false narrative that in 2016 the police are targeting black men with no relation to what they may be doing, that white cops are going around randomly killing back men out of racial animus. This kind of thinking is not only wrong but very dangerous. If allowed to spread (even further than it already has) it will make our country unpoliceable. Rather than seeing this female police officer as a person who perhaps, under pressure, made a tragic mistake, you paint her as a racist killer. You don't know a thing about her, nor do I. This is wrong in every way. The facts, as they begin to come out, show that Mr. Crutcher was in control of his life all the way. He had only to comply with the orders of the police. Now we find out that this convicted drug dealer had good reason not to want to deal with the police -- he had illegal drugs in the car. He did not stop as ordered but kept moving. As a former street cop, I know this is a very bad sign. Regarding the American gun issue that Grant mentions: I would point out that it is not just guns that are a problem for police. A perpetrator can close a 15 feet gap and knife you to death before you get off the first shot, and that assumes you have already drawn your weapon. These are some of the reasons that compliance with police orders is so essential in an orderly society. On the same day that Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson, MO,, a black police officer in another state shot and killed an unarmed white male. There were no riots over that, while Ferguson was burned and looted. Now Charlotte, NC is subject to riots and attacks on police because of a police shooting. Unfortunately for the narrative, the police officer was also black. But, of course, that did not stop the brother of the dead guy from being seen on TV yelling "All whites are devils." I've seen racist police officers -- white, black and brown -- I suspect there will always be such. That is not the problem.


          • #9
            DWAYNE well written. Full of well placed emotion.

            John Wertz Hi John, you have your right to your opinion certainly. However, your statistic stated above really has nothing whatsoever to do with this poem.

            Question: Your thoughts on the First Amendment, sir? Reprehensible? C'mon now. You are more of a patriot than that.

            grant hayes I too watched in horror the video. this stanza says it all:

            Helicopter pilot
            says you look like a bad guy,
            your guess
            how he could tell that
            from a bird's eye.


            • John Wertz
              John Wertz commented
              Editing a comment
              Hello Suz-zen

              I disagree. The statistics have everything to do with it. Dwayne goes form this one incident and in the last three stanza makes a general point that the police are out hunting back men. The statistics disprove this. The researcher, who is black, said that the finding was the biggest surprise of his life.

              If you were that police officer and someone was calling you a murderer, and executioner, knew nothing about you and did not have all the facts, reprehensible is not too strong a term (at least I did not flag his piece as he probably did mine). It is important to remember that the police do not have the luxury you and I have of just walking away. For all who think they would know how to handle Mr. Crutcher (who it appears had more going on than just car problems) you are deceiving yourselves. I've seen some bad police shooting (Charleston for instance) ; this one is less clear and the video likely does not show it all. I do not grieve Mr Crutcher, who is perhaps in a better place. I do grieve for this poor woman whose life is ruined and who will be trashed by the media and demagogue politicians, and may well do some jail time.
              Last edited by John Wertz; 09-22-2016, 10:22 AM.

            • Suz-zen
              Suz-zen commented
              Editing a comment

            • Suz-zen
              Suz-zen commented
              Editing a comment
              Sadly or gladly John we were not there. And we did not have to make that decision.
              You and DWAYNE both have a right to say what you think without calling for punishment for the opinion. My police office friends, detectives and all have agreed there is a problem. In quiet conversations we agree that calling out one another does nothing to help with the anger that just might be justified on both sides. Love to both.

          • #10
            Thanks for keeping it civil guys. So difficult to do these days in so many places. Glad the zone is not one of them.


            • John Wertz
              John Wertz commented
              Editing a comment
              Oh, we are all so very nice people here RLW. We should all be from California! ha ha.

          • #11
            Suz-zen, I agree with you.

            I have expressed strong opinions about my poems, and others.

            Sometimes I strongly disagree with someone's opinion. However, I certainly do not malign their work, and call them a liar.

            That would, of course, cross the line, antagonize the other party, and we could no longer have civil discourse.

            I WELCOME respectful disagreement.

            How do you grow, if you never challenge yourself?


            • #12
              this is all coincident with a human existential crisis. the world needs writers to illuminate better paths.
              poetry can be a light and humanity is speeding in the darkness.


              • John Wertz
                John Wertz commented
                Editing a comment
                I could not agree more.

            • #13
              I believe that there is sometimes corruption within the police department and that there should be something done about the situation so that it doesn't happen again. I don't really truly know what happened as I wasn't there so I can't state a concrete opinion, but I can say that I think that whatever happened is incredibly sad, whether or not it was based on racial prejudices.

              John Wertz
              I do not think the woman killed Mr. Crutcher just because he was black, but my opinion of that doesn't really matter. What does matter is that we fix whatever caused this misunderstanding so that it doesn't happen again. May we all be more carefull and including of others and who they are.

              And Dwayne, I thought the poem was wonderfully writen and had great ideas and well-placed emotion. Thank you.


              • John Wertz
                John Wertz commented
                Editing a comment
                Darthvader, thank you for you comment. Your thoughts are well taken, although I would suggest to you that as long as we have police (thank god) who exercise the legitimate use of force on behalf of the state, we will have fatal incidents and that some of these will be not justified by the circumstances, some will even be criminal acts. What is different now is that there is a more than usual push to demagogue each incident. We can not know what was in this police woman's heart when she pulled the trigger. But, I think we can safely say that this was in no way an execution. To portray it as such puts race relations backwards, and this is the reason that I believe it is harmful and dishonest to say or write such
                things. I do not believe that this was the result of a misunderstanding. Mr. Crutcher understood full well that he had an obligation to comply. He chose not to.

              • DWAYNE
                DWAYNE commented
                Editing a comment
                Thanks for reading, and commenting.

                I do not expect everyone to agree with my opinion. You are just as entitled to yours, as I am to mine.
                There are a number of opinions on what happened. I respect them all.

                Anyone who wishes to respectfully disagree and/or state their reasons for disagreeing, should feel free to comment.
                I appreciate the many enlightened remarks I read here.

                That being said, my issue is with the institutional conditions that have lead to prejudices, and aggressive policing of black people in America. That is what the poem was intended to address.

                It is extremely frustrating when black people continue to express the negative interactions with police, and many people refuse to even admit that there is any validity to their claims.

                This is not just the extreme cases when someone is killed, but everyday interactions that have created a tense relationship with law enforcement.

                Some blacks, who have been prejudged, and mistreated based on those prejudices, then become prejudice themselves. This is a shame.
                Last edited by DWAYNE; 09-22-2016, 01:37 PM.

            • #14
              I have no direct knowledge of the incident that is being discussed so I can't say why it happened someone is dead another has killed. Two tragedies that need action to lessen the chance of a repeat. The right to bear arms is a fallacy that worsens the situation but I think we should take great care of statistics What do they mean? I give you an example-more white people shot than black but there are more white people in the US than black so which is more likely to be shot? I do not have an answer and if I did what would it mean.

              There is an issue here debate, emotion, disagreement ok but any name calling and personal remarks just cheapen the views of the person making the remarks.


              • DWAYNE
                DWAYNE commented
                Editing a comment
                Totally agree!

                While blacks comprise only 13% of the American population as compared to whites 64%, blacks make up 40% of the prison population while white make up only 39% of the population.

                While whites and blacks use marijuana at the same rate, blacks are arrested for marijuana possession three times more than whites. This has more to do with the fact that police tend to police black areas more aggressively than white ones.

                The stop and frisk statistics bear that out!

                According to the NYPD's own statistics, 54% of people stopped and frisked by the department, were Black, 29% of of them were Latino, and only 11% of them were white. Of the total stops, less than 20% resulted in even minor charges!

                By the way, blacks make up only 25% of the population of New York City, latinos make up 28% of the population, while whites make up 44% of the population!
                Last edited by DWAYNE; 09-23-2016, 06:51 AM.

            • #15
              I respect what has been said here. While I believe Mr Crutcher should have stopped as directed by the police - having dated a decent law abiding black man for a while and seeing him subjected to continual harassment of being constantly stopped and frisked for no reason - he has never used drugs, been in jail or imprisoned- something I would never have believed happened had I not witnessed this first hand, as I stated before if I was black, I might have given in to the fear and run. That's why we must learn to accord everyone dignity and respect. Treat others as we would like to be treated.